11 Jan The Boat
One of the things that I’m the most thankful in life is to be able to share my passion for Photography with my two kids. When I started photography, I didn’t have a clue of what genre I was going to approach or how transformative it was going to be for me. I now say that I’m lucky to do what I love and to have my kids involved in every little bit of it. By that, I don’t only mean that they come up with concepts and pose for my pictures, but they have been an enormous influence in my photography style.
It all started with my boy when I first started photography. I’ve written about it before on these two posts (My autism Superhero, Me, myself and self -portraiture). He didn’t want anything to do with the camera, so I had to come up with creative ways to get him involved. See, if you approach a kid with your big camera and tell him/her straight what to do, chances are they will pose for you, but rarely you will get a good expression and probably they won’t enjoy having their picture taken either.
Since I wanted my son to enjoy doing these projects with me, I had to come up with a strategy so he would not only let me take his picture once but also that he would want me to take his picture all the time and enjoy it. The strategy I came up with was very straightforward. I simply let him take control.
We would sketch and talk about his favorite characters, animals, colors, and places to go and from there we would come up with an idea for a photo shoot. By the time I was taking the actual picture he was so into the project, he didn’t mind the camera or the lights at all. But it didn’t stop there, he then was a huge part of the post-processing too by giving me ideas and input on where to place things, what colors to use, etc.
That quickly became an activity we do at home… or anywhere we are!. You know, some families go and play or watch sports together, we create art, and well, we also go to Disneyworld a lot.
When my daughter was born, she joined the tradition as well. The more I worked with my kids, the more I fell in love with this genre of photography, and the more they started influencing my work. There’s nothing more magical than childhood, the innocence, the creativity, the amusement, and the imagination we have as kids. My propose of doing this kind of work is capturing all of that in the images I create for/with them. Their sense of adventure, their ideas, their favorite colors; those are things that I incorporate in my work, either in camera or in post-production.
In every image I’m creating with my kids I’m preserving part of their imagination in them. That is what makes these images so precious to me because it will be magical for them when they grow up to look at these pictures and see a visual representation of their imagination when they were kids. I hope these images always keep them in touch with their inner child, the same way, by creating them, I got back in contact with mine, and hopefully, that I am able to help my clients to get in with theirs.
A few weeks ago, during the Holiday Break, I wanted to do a personal project with my kids. It all started with a sailor dress my brother sent my daughter on her birthday. I saw this glorious boat at Spectacular Themes (a props warehouse I visit regularly) and I knew I had to do a photoshoot with it. A few days after I was there with both of my kids ready for the photoshoot. But I knew ,I had to take more than one picture with the boat, so we came up with a few ideas and grabbed a couple of extra props.
The first image, of course, was one of my daughter and her sailor dress. My son is obsessed with Kraken and obviously, we had to add that to the picture.
One of the most time-consuming aspects about making composites is actually finding stock assets. I have been trying through the years to build up my own stock photography collection to use on my images, but most of the time I still fall short and end up scrolling around Adobe Stock trying to find the perfect image. I love Adobe Stock preview feature because it allows me to see how their asset plays with the image I’m building before I commit to license it.
I enjoy how my kids have mastered the art of facial expressions. They really know how to tell their story. It makes it so easy for me at the time of taking their picture. We always have the best laughs while doing it. Here are the Before and After images we created with “The Boat”
This second image wasn’t planned. I had a few concepts in mind that my kids and I had already discussed and I grabbed a fishing rod for one of those images. As I was walking around getting things ready to shoot the next set, my kids were having a blast playing pretend on the boat and I started taking pictures. Then I added a few Florida creatures to it. A frog that we called Froggy the Frog: a snake that we didn’t even bother to give her a name because it was creepy enough for me to have to zoom in and select it; and of course, and an alligator that we called Gucci… you may ask, Why an alligator if that place looks like a spring? well, if there’s is water…there are alligators in it! Remember that every time you come to Florida!
My daughter was so excited about this picture below. She couldn’t wait for us to get back home so I put a mermaid tail on her on the computer! (that’s how she said it) I wanted to create a picture of my son as a fisherman and my daughter as a mermaid. I had a few ideas in mind and I thought about compositing my daughter in a rock at the beach. But then Randy, the owner of Spectacular Themes showed up rolling this huge rock and told me, let’s just make it look as if the boat wrecked on the rock and I thought it was a great idea!
Now, one of the most complicated parts of these mermaid composites was getting my daughter to settle for a color for her mermaid tail. She kept changing her mind, and since this is something I’m doing for her I have no choice but let her make her mind about it as I made many versions of it for her to choose.
All the pictures above were shot with my trusty 3 Legged Thing tripod. (Leo), but the one below I decided to shoot with my Platypod Ultra because I really wanted to get a really low perspective to make my son look above water and my daughter underwater. So, I put my Platypod Ultra in a corner of the floor of the warehouse and got a few shots with that perspective. (You can read a little bit more in-depth about that image in the Platypod website)
I always get asked by parents how to get started on this kind of photography. The most important thing is to let your subjects, your kids, take control. Let them be part of the experience. Plan with them, brainstorm, sketch, make it fun. The more connected they feel with the project the easier, faster and enjoyable it would be to get the shot!
Having a clear concept in mind before the photoshoot is critical when creating this kind of images. Think about perspective, framing, and direction of light.
Now, things are completely different when you work with little kids. I personally don’t do newborn Photography, I rather work with kids 6 months old and up or after they sit by themselves and know how to crawl. In those cases, I don’t pose my subjects. I’m not interested in the stress that comes with that for the babies or their parents. When I work with infants or toddlers I just let them be and play as I shoot. I try to get as many expressions as possible, and then I create an image based on their expression.
The main goal of the work I create is to convey joy and fun, so it is very important for me that my subjects enjoy creating these images with me.
Now when it comes to gear, I always have my 3 legged thing tripod with me and my Platypod Ultra and Max for low angle and tight spaces or to take to places where tripods are not allowed.
Shoot tethered when possible. Sometimes the little screen in the back of our camera doesn’t make justice.
Please don’t get caught up in gear. I still shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II and most of my images are created with the same lens, which is a 24-105m. The tool won’t make you a good artist; practice is the only way you can master your craft.
When it comes to post-processing, it all starts with your selection. Pick the right tools, take your time. Allow yourself to play and learn every time you are creating an image. Try new things, explore different tools in Photoshop. Drag those sliders and see what happens.
If you want to know more how I create these images, come and join me in one of my workshops, make sure to take a look here on my list of upcoming events.
Big Thanks to Spectacular Themes for providing me with these props and for making room for me to take these pictures at your warehouse!